WHAT IF WE DELIBERATELY KEEP ON SINNING... (Heb. 10:26)
If Jesus was willing to die for me when I was a dirty-rotten-sinner, then why does God seem to have so little grace towards us once we become His children?
I have heard this question phrased a thousand different ways. The confusion comes from a few passages in the book of Hebrews. For example:
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,” Hebrews 10:26
Personally I have taught and have been taught for several years that the same Grace that God had toward me as a sinner, He continues to have toward me as a saint. That even if I am still stumbling as a saint, God still extends the same value to me, that I am still “Worth dying for.” I still believe this is true.
The issue is that these passages in Hebrews have not been put into their biblical context. Specifically Hebrews 8, 9, and 10, require an understanding without which we can easily end up with a God that is very judgmental towards His very own children that are stumbling.
Context: First of all, let’s get the context of these chapters. The book of Hebrews was written somewhere between 30AD and 70AD. During Jesus’ ministry He demonstrated that He was the King and He had brought down His Kingdom and established it in the earth to grow and take dominion over time (Mt 13:31-33). Then at the last supper Jesus announced the arrival of His New Covenant that would be established the following day by His death. So far we have a King, a kingdom and a New covenant, yet the old covenant continued to linger.
In 30AD, Jesus had declared (mt 24) that the Temple and the Holy City would be destroyed within a generation (40 years). It happened exactly as He declared it would in 70AD, even in the timeframe in which He declared it. Yet Hebrews was written before the 70AD destruction, which removed the Old Covenant.
That is why you have passages like Hebrews 8. In verses 8:1-12 it speaks of the New Covenant being nothing like the Old Covenant. The New being better and having better promises. Then the key verse jumps off the pages, verse 13 “By calling this covenant “new” He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”
Even though Jesus the King had come and established His Kingdom, had sealed a New Covenant in His blood and made the Old Covenant completely obsolete. The Old Covenant still clung to life. The apostate Jews continued animal sacrifice, they continued to follow the Sabbath, they continued to celebrate the feasts. Hebrews 8:13 is pointing to the fact that 70AD was coming and would soon remove the Old Covenant entirely. And it did, 1.1 million Jews were slaughtered, the Temple was destroyed to the ground and every single priest was put to death.
Then Hebrews 9:1-9 speaks of the Old Covenant tabernacle, then in verse 10 we find the key again: “They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings-external regulations applying until the time of the new order.” Again we find the author speaking of how the Old is only going to last until the time of the “new order.” The book of Hebrews constantly speaks of the transition from the Old Covenant to the New.
The rest of chapter nine goes on to show that the Blood of Jesus is the New Covenant, which replaces the blood of the goats and bulls of the Old Covenant.
In chapter ten the theme continues with Jesus as the high priest that replaces all the Old Covenant high priests. In verse 9 we find again “Then He said, ‘here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second.” The theme of the Old being replaced by the New is inescapable. Yet unfortunately there are many today that are trying to drag the Old into the New.
Well, chapter ten continues to speak of this amazing New Covenant until we get to verse 25. “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
This fascinating verse has been used by pastors for years to encourage people to keep going to church, but this is a false application.
The context here is that the early church was meeting house to house daily, then in 70AD, every one of their houses would have been burned to the ground in the destruction of Jerusalem. The “Day” that they saw “Approaching” was the destruction of Jerusalem. In fact, Jesus had instructed them in Matthew 24 and Luke 22 that when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies, His followers should flee to the mountains. They did flee and Josephus records that “not one Christian died in the destruction of Jerusalem.”
So following Hebrews 10:25 is verse 26 which we began this discussion about: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,” Hebrews 10:26
So the context is how Jesus has delivered this amazing New Covenant to our doorstep and the Old lesser, outdated and obsolete covenant, the one that is nothing like the New one, the one that Jesus “set aside” is about to be destroyed and removed by the “approaching Day.” From Hebrews 10:26-39, the whole rest of the chapter speaks of those that go back from the New covenant to the Old covenant. How God is coming to “judge His people” (vs30). In verse 37 we find another time indicator. “In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.” This was not in reference to the Second Coming of the Lord (that is in our future), this was in reference to Jesus “Coming” to bring destruction upon Jerusalem. Throughout the Bible, “Coming” refers to God coming to bring judgment. For example:
A prophecy against Egypt: See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear (Isaiah 19:1).
If we don’t put Hebrews 10:26 into its proper context, then it ends up contradicting other passages such as:
(Note also that 10:27 says “but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” This was in reference to the burning of Jerusalem, not a reference to hell. According to many theologians, hell doesn’t consume, it tortures but it does not consume. If that is true, then we can easily see that the consuming fire here has more in common with the burning to the ground of the Holy City in 70AD.)